||Interviews with Nikolo Kotzev
Interview from Strutter Magazine (http://www.geocities.com/struttermagazine/)
KOTZEV by Nicky
Just released worldwide by SPV is the
stunning rock opera "Nostradamus" put together by Brazen Abbot's Nikolo Kotzev
who for the first time has bought the historic life of the influential French
prophet Michael De Nostradamus to cd which features the cast of Alannah Myles,
Joe Lynn Turner, Sass Jordan, Goran Edman, John Levin, Glenn Hughes, Jorn Lande,
Doogie White and a 35 piece orchestra I caught up with Nikolo to talk about
this wonderful presentation and here's what went
This is your
debut album as a solo artist, can you fill us in about what happened between the
release of "Bad Religion" in 1998 and this new album? and is Brazen Abbot still
a going concern?
My debut album as a solo artist was "Live and Learn " - the first Brazen
Abbot album. All the following BA albums have been my solo albums. On the
contrary, I wouldn't call "Nostradamus" a solo album, because it doesn't only
have to do with my skills as a player and the whole concept leads the project
into a different perspective. After releasing "Bad Religion" I almost
immediately started working on "Nostradamus", even though at that time it was
only an idea in my head. I will actually soon start writing songs for the next
Brazen Abbot album. BA is very much alive and it will be an ongoing concern for
me - it's just that I obviously didn't have the time for releasing a new album
while I was working on "Nostradamus".
I believe that you
originally released "Nostradamus" independently, what made you choose to go with
released "Nostradamus" independently. The company which financed the Nostradamus
recording went bankrupt, but at that time I had almost completed the
recordings. I continued working with the director of the company , who became my
manager. At that time I had a ready product, but no record company. Obviously ,
I had to find the way to release "Nostradamus" properly, so I waited for the
right solution and SPV seemed to be it. There was a possibility to release it
myself, but obviously such a release would limit my perimeter of action.
How long did it actually
take to record "Nostadamus"? It must have been a nightmare trying to round up
all the artists?
The actual recording time was not long at all - if I summed up all the
recording sessions, the time frame would escalate to only about 15 weeks.
Negotiating, scheduling and financing was what took time.
I had to approach
the artists or managers, agree on the time frames of recordings and all that -
obviously it took time....
You produced the album
yourself are you pleased with how the CD turned out?
I am very critical towards myself - I
wouldn't have released Nostradamus if I wasn't happy with it.
It wasn't easy, though - having no one to share opinion with is tough, as I had to make sure
I am making the right decisions at all times. On the other hand, the unusual
format and concept demanded a completely different approach than anything else
I'd ever worked on before.
I heard somewhere along
the line that you can be extremley difficult to work with, is this
really surprising for me. I've always paid an utmost respect for everyone I'd
All the artists involved in my projects are perfect
professionals and I have never had any arguments with them. The atmosphere in
the studio has always been very friendly and creative, so I have no idea where
you've heard that.
Can you take us through the album and tell
us about the songs on it and how you pieced it
Once the idea about "Nostradamus" was born , I decided to collect as much
information on Nostradamus as possible. This took me a couple of months of
Internet research, reading few books and
watching a few films. There are
thousands of Nostradamus sites out there, so collecting the correct information
was not easy. The next task was building the foundation of the whole piece. I
had many important factors to consider - who'll sing, in what tempo, in what
key, with orchestra or not etc. etc. I was very careful in placing the singers
throughout the entire work, since I wanted their appearances to be very well
balanced to each others - both timewise and storywise.
was written for to be performed live, I had to make sure it is playable live. I
made sure the orchestra had time to change their sheets, the band to prepare
with new sounds/instruments, the singers have time to rest between songs etc.
etc. I spent about two months on scoring everything for the orchestra. Some
changes had to be made as the project began taking shape, I wrote a couple of
additional numbers, had to change the storyline a little, etc. etc.
does the story of "Nostradamus" mean to you?
It carries a message to humanity -
Nostradamus spent his life helping people, but in many occasions
turned against him due to ignorance and under the influence of the church.
Despite all this, Nostradamus never failed to follow the most important mission
in his life - helping the ones in need. He was misunderstood by the most, which
only proves the well known fact, that humanity is self-destructive by nature.
Ironically, five centuries after his death he is recognized for his incredible
talents and devotion.
It was an unusual choice
to see the involvement of Alannah Myles and Sass Jordan and I have to say the
song 'Try To Live Again' is one of the best songs I have ever heard Alannah
sing. How did they get invovled in the project and do you think that you will
work with Alannah again on a full rock release?
I needed two female singers for the
story and Alannah has always fascinated me as one of the best female singers I
ever heard. Obviously , I approached her through her manager and she agreed to
participate. She is an incredible singer - I was stunned in the studio! Alannah
recommended Sass Jordan for the role of Catherine de Medici, so I went to
Canada and recorded Sass, which also turned out to be a very pleasant session.
I don't know if I'll be doing anything with Alannah in the future, but I surely
hope so. I have always been open for possibilities to work with other people,
not necessarily only on my own projects.
What was it like working
with the a 35 piece symphonic orchestra? Was this a dream fulfilled and do you
have any future projects involving an orchestra?
I spent many school years working in a
symphonic orchestra - in fact I have been the first violin in
orchestra. So, the atmosphere was nothing new to me. However, recording an
orchestra properly was a whole different story. Already from the beginning there
was no doubt that I will use a real orchestra, so I had to plan the recording
as good as possible. We spent a week on the recording and it was one HARD week, since we had to make sure the technical side of things was working properly as
well as rehearsing at the same time as we recorded. I hired a huge art gallery
in Varna, locked it for visitors and we worked 12 -14 hours a day. I hope I
will have the chance to make another orchestra project in the future, so,
is the concept behind BRAZEN ABBOT the band and what influences the band while
writing the music?
Would like to underline once again, that Brazen Abbot is not a band - it is my
solo effort. I have
always written the music, hired the performers and
produced every single note. My influences have always been bands like Deep
Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Queen, Pink Floyd. The main idea is to produce
a high quality hard rock music, disregarding the contemporary trends on the
market for rock music. I have always hoped for creating an own trademark. I
always use at least three different singers, but try to keep a close circle of
people I work with. The concept gives me the advantage of writing music the way
I like it, without been affected by
record companies or current
What feelings do you
wish to express through your music?
I am a
romantic person by nature and always try to recreate the feelings I had when
listening to the aforementioned bands. Rock music played an important role in my
teenage period and will never forget that.
What are the most important aspects of
each individual member, what are the qualities you looked for which made them
unique for this project?
When casting for
"Nostradamus" I had to make sure that the individual profile of the singers will
moreor less fit to their roles. On the other hand I had to make sure all the
singers had the necessary range for singing their parts. All the chosen singers
are incredibly well suited to their roles and I expected their personal artistic
input to enrich the entire level of performance/emotion. I am extremely
satisfied with the choice of singers - it all worked out exceptionally well. I
knew most of the singers prior to recording and knew what to expect on the
emotional side of things, so it was just to carry on...
Can you tell us some
more about your lyrical approach on "Nostradamus"?
The lyrics were written by the singers
under my guidance. Everyone who wrote lyrics received
a detailed instruction
from me, so they knew what the song is about, what events are taking place,
what has happened and what will happen after the song. I gave some tips for
certain phrases and expressions, which were characteristic for the 15th century
and made sure it all fitted together. I was afraid, that having few people
write lyrics might result in stylistic problems, but later on I realized that
everything was going well, so that concern dropped out. The lyrics are rich in
quotes and genuine facts/expressions. Five of the songs deal with Nostradamus'
predictions, so we had to make sure everything is historically correct and well
put. The difficulties in these particular songs came from their nature - they
tell a story, but still had to be emotional and dramatic. Göran Edman and
Doogie White did an excellent job there. Obviously Joe Lynn Turner and Glenn
Hughes did an admirable job too - it has all been collective effort at it's
heard that there has been film and theatre interest in this. Is this correct?
Have you had any offers?
The primary goal for "Nostradamus" is
playing it live on stage. I had an offer from an American production company,
which wanted to buy the rights for "Nostradamus" world-wide and a film/live
production would come as a result of an eventual agreement. We negotiated for a
few months and had agreed on the most important points of the deal. However, it
was taking too long time I the mutual feeling was, that we should carry on in
different directions. I believe there is a huge potential in "Nostradamus" as a
live show and once the record has been released I will start approaching
different parties interested in financing it.
Obviously your inspired
by literature, but I was wondering what forms of art beside music inspires you
most and are there any other works of literature that you would like to put
love movies - it is my best way to relax an find inspiration. Good taste is the
inspirational force for me - regardless of the art form that carries
it. Inspiration comes sometimes
from the most unexpected sources - it is
hard to predict.
How do you see the
evolution of the metal world? There are currently epic / speed metal bands
around every corner. Don't you think that the market becomes saturated and that
it is difficult for the fans to make a choice to what to buy and what
always been a firm believer, that people who are hungry for real art always
find it. It is true, that there is too much product on the market (some of it
is even substandard), but then again - we all have the right to be creative.
Some of us are less successful, some more. After all, the creator can't judge
the value of his own work - he can only suggest it to the public. It is the
public that decides how much it is worth.
As far as I know you never toured with
Brazen Abbot. If and when the band get back together will there be any shows for
either Brazen Abbot or even a one off London Westend show for "Nostradamus"
would love to take BA or "Nostradamus" on the road. While the thought seems
easily achievable with BA, "Nostradamus" will demand a far larger budget , so
it won't be equally easy. However, I would love to tour either of the projects, so only the future will show.
The artwork is dark and mysterious with a
gloomy frail looking picture of "Nostradamus", did you give the artist a free
hand or did you have an idea how you wanted the artwork to look
a direction and he put it on paper. We adjusted it few times and finally got it
do you predict the future of for yourself musically as this will be a tough
album to follow?
Well, I will start writing for the next Brazen Abbot album soon and it will
be in the old BA tradition - so
it is not directly comparable to
"Nostradamus", I guess. "Nostradamus" will not affect the future of BA, simply
because they are different projects and there is no reason to put a parallel
Finally if you would
like to add something then please go ahead?
I hope everyone out there will realize
how much effort and devotion went into the making of "Nostradamus". I also hope
the public will like it as much as I do and let's all hope we will see it on
stage in the near future!!!
Yes, the amount of work that went into the album deserves
an award of achievement. I predict that sometime soon we will see this massive
production on stage, Nikolo has achieved a mighty project which is hard to
describe in words, "Nostaradamus" is an adventurous project and is Nikolo's most
mature and varied work to date, Please go and buy this album and make your own
mind up on this wonderful project that will know doubt be recogonised by music
lovers for years to come.